On Good Friday, we remember the suffering and death of our Savior. Before He died, He suffered a great deal. Jesus told His disciples this would occur. Luke 9:22, for instance, records one of the occasions when Jesus foretold His suffering as well as His death and resurrection,
The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
Romans 3:25 reminds us of the suffering and death of Jesus in the phrase “by his blood.”
whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
Jesus’ suffering was real and horrific. We can see many of the elements of His suffering under the light of the Biblical text, yet words can never fully describe or capture the ethos of the events surrounding Christ’s passion. Jesus suffered in at least two ways, emotionally and physically, to provide our justification.
Jesus suffered emotionally
- In John 12:27, Jesus said, “Now is my soul troubled”
- In Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus once again said, “My soul is very sorrowful, even unto death” (Mark 14:34). Mark described Jesus as “greatly distressed and troubled” (Mark 14:33). Luke tells us that Jesus, “being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
- The disappointment Jesus dealt with when those closest to Him could not pray with and for Him in His darkest hour (Matthew 26:40-41). They were sleeping.
- Jesus was betrayed by Judas. As he approached Jesus he said “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed the door to heaven (Matthew 26:49).
- Jesus was betrayed by Peter. As Jesus was under trail in the High Priest’s house, Luke tells us that after Peter denied Him, “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter” (Luke 22:61).
- Jesus was betrayed by the Jews. Just a few days earlier they exuberantly cried, “Hosanna!” now they angrily demanded, “Crucify Him!” (John 12:13; Luke 23:21).
- Jesus faced blatant injustice. Barabbas, a guilty man was released, the innocent One sentenced to death (Luke 23:18, 24-25).
- Jesus experienced the humiliation of Roman Soldiers who stripped Him naked, mocked Him, and spit on Him.
- Most of all was the sense of being forsaken by His Father moments from death expressed in His anguished cry from the cross, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
Jesus suffered physically
- Jesus was beaten by the Jews (Luke 22:63).
- Jesus was scourged or whipped (John 19:1). ‘The victim was stripped and tied to a post. The Jews scourging was limited to forty lashes, but the Romans were restricted by nothing but their strength and whim” (Carson, “Matthew,” 571). “This was insanely cruel and vicious. The scourge was a whip constructed of a short stick (about twelve to fourteen inches long) having several strips of leather (about three feet long) attached. Often the leather strips had stones, metal particles, or bone fragments imbedded so as to tear into the flesh” (Glasscock, Matthew, 530). Isaiah 53:5 says, “with his stripes we are healed.”
- A crown of thorns was crunched down upon his head. It’s said that these thorns were 6 to 8 inches in length (Carson, Scandalous, 16).
- He was beaten some more by Roman soldiers (John 19:3).
- He was struck with the reed they used as a mock scepter (Mark 15:19).
- He was beaten so severely that He was beyond human recognition. Isaiah 52:14, “his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind.” This was the prophet Isaiah’s way is describing the severity of His suffering (Young, Isaiah, 3:338). How right Peter Gerhardt was when he expressed Bernard of Clairvaux’s poem, “How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!/How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!”
- He faced insatiable thirst on the cross (John 19:28).
- Crucifixion meant a slow, painful death by suffocation.
Mercy and severity are intermingled in the righteousness of God. God is patient and forebears with the sins of humanity. God “does not hurry to punish every sinner” (Morris, Romans, 183). But He could withhold because the cross was in His plan. Peter said in Acts 2:23,
this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
God’s severe righteousness came crashing down on the cross. It fell like a sledgehammer, delivering a crushing death-blow to Jesus.
For family devotions, Martin Luther once read the account of Abraham offering Isaac on the altar in Genesis 22. His wife, Katie, said, ‘I do not believe it. God would not have treated his son like that!’ ‘But, Katie,’ Luther replied, ‘He did’” (Wiersbe, The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, 191). “Both justice (the divine attribute) and justification (the divine activity) would be impossible without the cross” (Stott, Romans, 116).
What verses more candidly captures the suffering and death of Christ than Isaiah 53:5, 10,
But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him.
This is both the horror and the glory of Good Friday.
Just before Jesus died, John 19:30 records these agony-filled but precious words,
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed His head and gave up the spirit.
Christ died having provided the payment my sin required. It is because of Christ’s suffering and death that I can be justified. Amen!
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9)
On Good Friday we remember,
There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins,
and sinners plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains.